I welcome yesterday’s publication of the Lords’ Science and Technology Committee’s report ‘Battery strategy goes flat: Net-zero target at risk’.
Not only is the report well set-out, but it succeeds in setting the challenges that government must overcome right across the board – especially around battery and hydrogen safety, production and planning.
The UK Government wishes to see itself as a ‘world leader’ in this space, but as this report makes clear, is failing to do so, leaving other nations to get ahead of the game. While we must approach the challenges ahead with optimism, the UK government cannot expect to talk the talk without walking the walk. This report is an opportunity for Government to echo the experts in this field and acknowledge the very real challenges we face with innovation, supply chains and skills.
During the CGLN’s recent inaugural event on the future of lithium-ion battery technology, I outlined that one of the greatest challenges we face for the EV industry is the limited provisions of charging points. I agree with the recommendation in today’s report that “there must be ‘charging for all’, at homes, workplaces and public locations.” It requires the government to step in and see that the regulatory system is produced, the finance is found and that it is rolled forward.
The United Kingdom has a history of undervaluing our engineers compared with countries such as France and Germany. We are aware that we have an industry, that of oil and gas, which will come to an end. The industry employs a significant number of engineers – a large number of them have already joined the offshore wind industry and have used their skills to transform it. The Government must ensure that there are sufficient skilled workers in the electric automotive industry and looking to the oil and gas industry would be a wise place to begin.
Finally, I am pleased to see HGVs getting the attention they deserve in this report. Electrification is essential for the future of transport, but transport is not confined to cars. I too welcome the 2040 ban on the sale of new vehicles, but that is not enough. This is a critical area whereby we do not have any solution. To solve this problem, we need investment and innovation, but those things will not come without clarity from UK Government.
This report is timely for our Network, as the CGLN is working on a white paper, outlining the opportunities and challenges that need to be overcome within the battery sector and energy storage more widely.
We know that batteries and fuel cells will be instrumental in decarbonising our world. Today’s report is a welcome contemporary framework of steps that must be taken for the UK to rise up to the challenge.